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The Old Ways

18 April, 2017

Remember that title. The author is Robert MacFarlane, and I've not read a finer book about landscape, and our own place in it. 

Phrases like: '...where the sea shampooed the rocks...'

Or: '...the moor has the appearance of chamois leather.'

Or: '...yachts white as toothpaste.'

It's divine, and diverse, with MacFarlane trekking and sailing the faint paths of earlier pilgrims and traders, describing his progress from the Orkneys to Tibet. Truth be told I'm growing steadily reluctant to reach the journey's end.

Though by way of compensation, the book's endpages include a splendid glossary of terrain terms, which I've sampled below. See who can clue these geo-gems the best, serving up both definition and wordplay. Set the pace:

bealach - pass between two hills

carr - fen with low bushes

currach - wickerwork boat

eoliths - stones bearing evidence of ancient workings

ghillie - fishing guide

guga - young gannet

immram - wonder-voyage

machair - coastal grassland

mycelia - fungal network of delicate filaments

qasr - stone tower

sarsen - isolated boulder on a chalk down

stravaig - to meander

zawn - sea-cliff's fissure

Enjoy your clues - and the views (if you get round to MacFarlane's stravaigs).

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